The whole point about the Acer Swift 7 is that it’s incredibly thin. As I unboxed the Swift 7, I honestly thought that the little black package inside was the instruction manual. It turned out to be the actual laptop. At a mere 9.95mm inches thick, measuring 317.9mm to 191.5mm, the Swift 7 is a commuter's dream as it really is that thin. It easily fits in your bag, and you'll hardly notice it's there—even after lugging it around all day.
Really, Really, Really Thin
Acer didn't cheat on the thinness, either. There's no obvious hinge bulge like you would find in some thin laptops. In fact, the hinge is so flush it's difficult to see—a step up over the previous Swift 7, which had a noticeable gap between the keyboard and display.
The Swift 7 has an understated matte black shell with a single LED to indicate battery status. The case is a blend of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminium alloys that make it feel more solid than plastic, but less solid than an (albeit heavier) aluminium case on something like the MacBook Air.
I wondered if something so thin would be difficult to open, but thankfully that's not the case. The Swift 7 has a tiny but helpful protrusion on the top edge that helps pry the clamshell open without requiring Howard Hughes–length fingernails. It is definitely a two-handed operation, but that's par for the course with laptops this thin.
Packed in a small little package
Somehow, Acer has managed to cram this tiny package with a 14-inch 1080p screen, a 1.5 GHz Intel Core i7 (i7-8500Y) processor, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a 512 gigabyte hard drive. Like the MacBook Air, there are two USB-C ports in addition to a headphone jack. Acer also includes a three-port dongle adapter with USB-A, another USB-C, and an HDMI port.
While it's plenty powerful enough for business use, none of the Acer's specs are earth-shattering. The i7 Y-series chips are down-stepped to 1.5 GHz to improve battery life and keep temperatures cool, which is important in a machine this thin. What makes the Swift special isn't its raw power but its relative power squeezed into an impossibly thin, light package. The Swift 7 technically weighs in at 890 grams and is small enough to fit in most shoulder bags or even a large purse.
Once you get past the thin factor, the other standout in the Swift 7 is the very nearly edge-to-edge display. The display is a touchscreen 1080p IPS LCD panel protected by Gorilla Glass. The Swift 7's touchscreen panel doesn't pack as many pixels as some newer laptops. It's no Retina-level display.
In fact, when Acer announced the Swift 7 the universal reaction was "too bad about the low-resolution screen." But honestly, 1080p at this size isn't as bad as you'd think. The IPS display isn't 4K nice, but it's plenty bright and sharp. The default Windows 10 zoom level was set too high for my tastes, but a quick trip into the settings fixes that. I got a level of sharpness that's better than the 1080p screen on my Lenovo x250.
Gorilla Glass definitely has a different tactile experience when you're using the touchscreen, but it's no less responsive. It's also nice to know that minor bumps and jostling of everyday carrying shouldn't crack your screen.
As expected, the down-stepped CPU did not perform as well in benchmarks, though I did not notice sluggish performance in real-world use. Browsing the web, working with large image documents, even playing back 4K video clips didn't faze the Swift. The only time I noticed the Swift struggle was rendering a 4K video.
The upside to the Swift 7's CPU is that you get all-day battery life. In normal use—web browsing, document editing, Slack messaging—I routinely got 10 hours out of the battery. Looping a video with Wi-Fi off brought that down to nine hours and benchmark battery tests got me 8.5 hours.
Achilles' Nose Cam
To get that ultra-thin screen bezel, Acer has moved the built-in webcam down into the body of the laptop in a clever little pop-up housing. On the bright side, the camera is blocked when not in use, meaning you don't have to resort to covering it with black tape. But, while the hinged camera is clever, it introduces the dreaded nose cam effect.
Video chatting with a camera pointed more or less directly up your nose is disconcerting for you and anyone you're chatting with. If you do a lot of video chatting, you'll want to invest in a separate webcam.
The other main problem with the latest Swift 7 is the keyboard. It's comfortable to type on. The keys are well spaced and provide good tactile feedback despite how flush they are, but the key arrangement is unusual. The Caps Lock key is half size to make room for the tilde key. The delete key is to the left of the Backspace key, which I also find odd, though less annoying on a practical level.
These complaints are minor, but worth considering. In the end, the Acer Swift 7 is not a video editor nor is not a gaming powerhouse. It's a tiny little work machine that is super-ultra portable that you'll hardly notice in your bag. Did I mention how thin and light it is?